25 Teach. Learn. Grow. posts to help you build an equitable classroom

Equity in education benefits all students. In the simplest terms, equity in the classroom can be defined as providing all students with what they need to feel welcome, safe, supported, and empowered to reach their full learning potential.

Despite good intentions, educational inequity continues to exist in our schools—and the pandemic only exacerbated these preexisting vulnerabilities.

Educators play a critical role in not only educating students, but also in building equitable classroom environments while we do so. Keep equity and inclusion at the forefront of your educational practice to ensure you are providing all your learners with exactly what they need. Here is a list of Teach. Learn. Grow. posts to help you navigate and implement equitable practices in your classroom.

Equity is for everyone

As my colleague Miah Daughtery says, “Inclusion takes hard work”—but if you’re willing to take it on, it’s worth it.

It can seem overwhelming to tackle because inequity in education is not always blatant. A lot of times it can be inconspicuous, like the unequal distribution of academic resources or technology.

The following posts touch upon the basics of equity and inclusion in action, from understanding the importance of identity-affirming texts and representation to helping students meet grade-level requirements and beyond:

  1. “3 ways to use assessment effectively and equitably”
  2. “Inclusion takes hard work”
  3. “Let’s talk equity: Reading levels, scaffolds, and grade-level text”
  4. “How to help third-graders meet reading requirements”
  5. “The world’s worst scissors: Why design thinking matters in your classroom”
  6. “20 LGBTQ+ books for K–12 readers during Pride Month and throughout the year”
  7. “How identity-affirming texts empower literacy education”

Supporting students with disabilities

To support learners with disabilities, we must first understand the ways biases and oppression are perpetuated in learning environments.

Another NWEA colleague, Elizabeth Barker, who has worked with and focused a lot of her research on supporting students with disabilities, says it perfectly: “I’ve done all I can to understand both myself and the countless kids out there who think differently—but are just as smart, competent, and deserving of excellent instruction that can meet them where they are.”

The following posts share best practices, tools, and resources to ensure educational equity to meet your students with disabilities where they are:

  1. “There’s always a way in special education. Don’t stop until you find it”
  2. “Dos and don’ts for talking about students with disabilities”
  3. “Assistive technology 101”
  4. “Fact or fiction? The 4 myths of dyslexia”
  5. “Why students with dyslexia aren’t ‘at risk’”
  6. “Best practices in reading instruction for students with dyslexia”
  7. “The case for K–3 screening and intervention for dyslexia”

On the importance of anti-racist teaching

As educators, we must commit to being anti-racist to create inclusive learning environments. Every day is an opportunity to work toward changing long-held beliefs and practices. Anti-racist teaching equips students with the tools and knowledge necessary to create a more just world and to thrive as members of a global, multicultural community.

The following posts can help you navigate and implement an anti-racist teaching practice:

  1. “3 ways to start building an anti-racist teaching practice”
  2. “Racism hurts kids. Here are 5 things you can do about it”
  3. “Before the national outrage: Why young kids need to be taught about racism”

On the importance of culturally responsive teaching

Being culturally responsive means being in tune with your students’ culture and needs. When educators learn the basic tenets of culturally responsive teaching, they sometimes ask, “Isn’t culturally responsive teaching just good teaching?” Well, yes.

When a student or teacher’s culture, or prior experiences, are acknowledged and integrated in the classroom, new information or lessons become “full circle” and more relevant. The following collection of posts describes how to put culturally responsive teaching practices to work in your classroom:

  1. “How to engage the emergent bilingual students in your math classroom”
  2. “4 ways to practice culturally responsive teaching”
  3. “5 tips for developing intersectionality practices and awareness in your classroom”
  4. “5 myths about emergent bilinguals—and how to challenge them”
  5. “3 ways to activate your multilingual students’ superpowers”

Leveraging social emotion learning (SEL)

SEL and equity go hand in hand. By allowing students to feel safe, heal, and build trusting relationships with their teachers and peers, SEL supports equity by leading to improved academic outcomes for all students.

According to CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, systemic implementation of SEL both fosters and depends upon an equitable learning environment: “While SEL alone will not solve longstanding and deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can help schools promote understanding, examine biases, reflect on and address the impact of racism, build cross-cultural relationships, and cultivate adult and student practices that close opportunity gaps and create a more inclusive school community.”

Treat yourselves and your students with kindness and understanding. The following are just a few examples of SEL in action:

  1. “A step-by-step guide for using stress- and trauma-sensitive practices in your classroom”
  2. “6 ways to help heal toxic stress, trauma, and inequity in your virtual or in-person classroom”
  3. “5 SEL strategies that can help with behavior trouble”

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